Steffy ranks as one of PA's best

Pennsylvania has three quarterbacks who are garnering national attention this year. One of those is Jordan Steffy. Charles Babb recently spoke to him and his coach.

Perhaps it is just my perception, but it seems like it has been a few years since the land of William Penn had this many quality quarterbacks. Anthony Morelli, Chad Henne, and Jordan Steffy all have college recruiters in a tizzy. Pilgrimages to visit them are becoming common, and if they perform as expected in the summer camps – local authorities may need to look at expanding the roads surrounding their high schools because of the increase in traffic.

So who is Jordan Steffy?

Jordan is the quarterback for Conestoga Valley High School in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This fall he will become a four-year starter at the position and is looking to lead his team to a conference championship after taking them from 4-6 in 2001 to 8-2 in 2002. Driven by his desire to improve his game, coach Gerad Novak says of Jordan, "He is a real student of the game. He takes what he does very serious and spends a lot of extra time watching film in preparation for games and trying to understand what other people are trying to do defensively against this offense. His offseason work ethic has been phenomenal."

While most coaches say such things about their top prospects, in Jordan's case I am inclined to believe that he is indeed extraordinary in this regard.

Why is this the case?

During his first two seasons as their starting quarterback, Conestoga High ran an option attack. Last year, Steffy was forced to adapt to and command a radically different offense when the coaches opted to switch to the shotgun. Going from the option to the shotgun in a matter of months is not easy to say the least; take a look at some game tapes of Nebraska last season when they tried to pass the football if you have any doubts. It hurt to watch. Yet in perusing Jordan's statistics – not only did he not miss a beat, he improved his game and the record of his team. He still burned teams with his feet by rushing for 12 touchdowns and 470 yards on 108 carries and became even more dangerous with the added passing dimension by completing nearly 65% of his throws. On the year he was 158 of 246 with 19 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

I don't care what level of football that is – folks, that is simply outstanding.

Jordan is not satisfied however. In setting his goals for next season, not only does he want a conference title for the team, but he wants to elevate his playing prowess as well.

"Stats-wise I am not really concerned," he said. "The stats will come. We have most of our line is coming back and a couple good receivers. I just want to take my game to a higher level. I want to lead my team. Completed passes and all that stuff is going to happen, but I want to be able to lead my team in the game."

His teammates seem to have recognized these desires in him according to Coach Novak.

"The team rallies around him," he said. "They respect him and look up to him in terms of his leadership on the field. He is one of our captains. When a big play needs to be made – they know that if they give him an opportunity that he can be the guy who can make a big play whether it is running the ball or throwing the ball. If the line gives him a little bit more time or makes the key block they are going to come out with a big play."

Undoubtedly part of the reason why his teammates follow him is because he seems to intrinsically understand that true leaders accept responsibility for failures even when it is not their fault, and they give credit to others even when it is they who deserve the lion's share. When asked if there was anything he would like to add to the interview, after thinking for a moment, he said that he wanted to thank his coach. In discussing the performance of the team in 2002 and its improvement from 4-6 to 8-2, Jordan remarked, "We had some guys step up and make my job a lot easier. Our line was huge this year. I hardly ever got touched. The stats looked good for me, but I had all day. When you have that long to sit back in the pocket it makes the game a lot easier."

When something goes wrong it is not someone else that he points the finger at. He first looks at himself – almost to a fault as is evidenced by his comment: "We lost two games, and I think I am a little too hard on myself. I always feel I could have done better or done something to help us change the game around."

A number of colleges are already catching onto Jordan and what he offers on and off of the field. Maryland, Virginia, Purdue, Pittsburgh, Duke, Iowa, and Indiana have already offered him a scholarship. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Alabama, Nebraska, and Tennessee have all expressed varying levels of interest and might offer down the road.

Probably the major (if not only) item holding back more division one colleges from offering right now is Steffy's size. At 6'1", his ability to play the position and see over the line at the next level is a concern. To coach Novak, this makes little sense. "Jordan is not your straight drop QB - a 6'5" or 6'6" guy who has a gun with arm, but ask him when he gets flushed out of the pocket to make a play and he looks like he is running with two big, square wheels on the bottom of his feet. He (Jordan) is mobile and agile – his big thing is he is only 6'1". I don't see what is such a big deal. Obviously he is not as fast as Michael Vick, but the threat of him on the corner or out in the open is huge to the defense. That may be an even bigger threat than the 6'6" guy who can throw the ball. He has good arm strength. At Nike Camp they had him throwing 20-yard outs, and that is not a problem for him. We do that in our own system. His mobility and his athleticism is what he really has to offer at the quarterback position."

For his part, Jordan wants a shot at playing quarterback and says as much. Coach Novak explains this desire in a bit more detail.

"He wants to be a quarterback," he said. "His number one thing is that he wants a legitimate opportunity to play quarterback. If after he is playing quarterback he is there and somebody else is that much better and he realizes there is no chance that he is ever going to play quarterback and the coaches said, ‘We would like you move to another position', I think he would move. He wants to play college football. He wants a legitimate shot. He wants to show people that he can play that position. I believe he can. The problem is that he is not your prototypical quarterback. Here is a kid who is 6'1" who runs a 4.47 forty, runs the option, plays in a shotgun offense – what more can you ask for from a kid coming out of high school? I just hope people say, ‘hey – we are going to give you an opportunity.'"

To help Jordan get the needed exposure so that coaches can see his abilities to play the signal caller position at the next level up close and personal, he and coach Novak are taking a whirlwind tour of colleges and camps. So far they have visited Purdue, Illinois, Pitt, Maryland, and Virginia, and attended the recent Nike Camp at Penn State. They tentatively are planning to hit the Nike Camp in 2 weeks at Virginia Tech, Syracuse on June 7-8, Michigan and Michigan State for a day each, Indiana and Iowa for a day, Maryland, possibly South Carolina and NC State, and Ohio State...

I have seen rock bands with less extensive tours!

So who is Jordan off of the football field?  Coach Novak shared some insight.

"We run some midget camps," he said. "He is always involved with those. I am always sending him off on his own, and he takes care of teaching the quarterbacks what they need to know. At basketball camps, the kids are always running to him and wanting to be in his group. He is excellent with those kids. He goes out to midget football practice and spends some time talking to the kids. This Friday (last week) he is going to be taking part in challenge day. The physically disabled kids have their track and field day with different events. He is going to be one of the buddies for that. He will have a kid he takes around for the day."

Jordan is academically qualified, but he is not academically satisfied (a common thread that seemingly weaves its way though all aspects of his life). "I just took the SAT," he said. "I scored a 930, which is enough but I just took them again last Saturday. I am hoping to get around 1000. My GPA is about 2.4. Right there I qualified with the SAT score. My freshman year was tough for me as far as grades. I came in and started football which was a lot for me to deal with. My grades slipped. I have worked the past two years to get them up."

Where Jordan Steffy ends up for his collegiate career is still in doubt. His desire, work ethic, and ability to lead are not. Someone is going to land a fine prospect when he inks his name on their letter of intent in February of 2004.

Jordan's hobbies: "I go to church on the weekends. I like hanging out with friends. Other than that it is a lot of sports. I play AAU basketball sometimes and lift weights and watch film. I do everything that hopefully will make me a better player this season."

Possible Majors - Business and Physical Education: "Physical education - I love not only playing football but watching film. To be a coach I figured that would be the perfect major. As far as business it is just something I am interested in being an entrepreneur and not working for someone else."

Jordan's Vital Statistics: 6'1", 205 lbs, 4.47 forty at the Penn State Nike Camp. 510 lb squat, 280 lb bench press, and a 290 lb power clean.

Jordan in Basketball: "Our school has never had a 1,000 point scorer. I am hoping to be one of the first. We have three guys on our team who might be the first 1,000-point scorer. I averaged around 13-14 points a game this year."

Something people might be surprised to find out about Jordan: "I enjoy playing the piano. I have only played for a year. I don't really play all the time."

Any date that Jordan is set on committing: "Actually no. When I feel it is the right time I will. I am definitely not going to rush anything."

What is he hearing from Ohio State? "I was invited to a junior day event I was not able to make, but I am receiving letters from Ohio State."

Coach Novak on the attention Jordan is receiving and whether it might go to his head: Jordan and I – we spend a lot of time talking about these things. I think he needs to understand when good things happen there is going to be a lot of media attention on him and when bad things happen there is still going to be just as much attention if not more. He has had to deal with this from the time he was 14, 15 years of age playing as a freshman. Over the years he has become more accustomed to it. He understands the kind of questions people are going to ask and the things that he should say. I don't even worry about it giving him a big head. He knows what he has to do. He has to go out and perform regardless of what people are saying about him. They can say you have the best arm and these are all the great things you do, but when it comes right down to it when people are watching you still have to prove it. It goes back to that work ethic. When it comes down to it he is going to show you he is the best guy for that position."

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